Authors Posts by missiontoditmars



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Jade Wu
Jade Wu
Jade Wu

Neighborhood: Jackson Heights

Jade Wu
Hyphenated Artist/Jill of all Trades
Golden Phoenix Productions, Inc.
a 501(c)(3) organization

Jade has dedicated four decades of service to the pursuit of social and human justice through the arts. She has worked on Presidential political campaigns and was a Mayoral appointee as Artistic Producer of a 1400-seat vintage RKO theater where she booked talents such as Chris Rock, George Carlin, Four Tops, Faith Hill, and Martina McBride.

Jade is a screenwriter/executive producer and has worked for ABC Daytime Drama Series “General Hospital” and “One Life to Live” as well as scripted/directed documentary films which have screened at the IFP Market, Asian American Int’l Film Festival, Sundance Producers’ Conference, and the Anthology Film Archives in New York City.  She was a Disney/ABC Writing Fellow, Jerome Foundation Fellow, Film/Video Arts Fellow, BlueCat Screenplay Semi-finalist, and a PEN USA Rosenthal Emerging Voices Writing Fellowship Semi-finalist. Jade’s stage plays have had public readings at the Nuyorican Poets Café, Urban Stages, Santa Clara Experimental Theatre Festival and La Jolla Studio Stage.

She served as a New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Grant Panelist for three years and as an International Emmy Awards Juror in Drama Series and Documentaries for five years.

Prior to the film industry, Jade was Principal, Creative Director and Head Copywriter of her own 22-person advertising firm whose clientele included HBO Global, ARTNews, Ford Foundation, Chase Manhattan Bank, Bank of America, Security Pacific, and Merck Pharmaceuticals.

In the corporate arena, while as Vice President of Marketing and Communications, she was responsible for creating an in-house agency umbrella-ing Waverly, Inc.’s four domestic and international advertising and marketing divisions into what is now known as Lippincott/Waverly, a global leader in medical publishing.

In the acting arena, Jade has had recurring roles in television on NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” Warner Bros. TV’s “The Adversaries,” and ABC’s “One Life to Live.” On stage, she has worked directly along side Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in New York’s Central Park production of “Mother Courage and Her Children” written by Oscar and Tony Awardee Tony Kushner and directed by Tony award-winner George C. Wolfe.  Her stage credits include working with other iconic directors: Alan Schneider, Blanka Zizka, Liv Ciulei, JoAnne Akalaitis, Gerald Gutierrez, Wendy Goldberg, Dan Wackerman, and Frances Hill, as well as award-winning writers Lucy Thurber, Chung-mi Kim, Rehana Mirza, Ruth Wolff and Lanford Wilson.  She has performed roles at the Shakespeare Theatre, The Public Theatre, New York Shakespeare Theatre, Arena Stage, The Wilma Theater, Minetta Lane Theatre, Urban Stages and toured at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and Adelaide Festival in Australia. In film, she is most noted for her lead role in Michael Kang’s Sundance pedigree film, “The Motel,” along with roles in numerous major studio films directed by Tony Scott, Browen Hughes, Andrew Fleming and Spike Lee.

As an educator, Jade’s teaching background includes the Fashion Institute of Technology, University of California/San Diego, New York Film Academy, Raul Julia Institute for the Performing Arts, and private coaching. She has been a return Lecturer at Bard College on Drama in Social and Human Justice and the philosophies of Michel Foucault’s Fearless Speech in relation to dramatic text and dialogue.

She holds a BA in Drama and Literature, BS in Biochemistry and matriculated in the MFA Theatre Program at the University of California, San Diego.

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Neighborhood: Astoria
Melissa Hammans is a NYC based actor/singer originally from the hoosier state. she began her career early portraying one of the andrews sisters. thanks, mama, for sewing my costume.
She went on to hot roll her hair, don silver sequin shoes, and perfect her jazz hand in show choir. her tour-de-force performances in such high school productions as “godspell” and ” the crucible” sparked her love of the stage, despite the snub from the academy…

She has since been an ex-girlfriend, a nun, a rockstar, a claus, a diva, a queen, a snowball, and an all around good time gal.

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Meredtih Packer
Meredtih Packer
Meredith Packer
Meredith Packer

Neighborhood: Astoria

Meredith Packer is a New England transplant who graduated with a BA in Theater from Wagner College in 2005. In 2006, she co-founded Amsterdam Artists, LTD with whom she helped produce & direct two successful productions before parting ways in 2008. She has also produced and directed with the Effable Arts, LTD. She has had brief stints with NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice and with the technical team at New World Stages and AML entertainment. While an artistic nomad, she has made a home in Astoria for the last 5 years.

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Neighborhood: Sunnyside

Laura Pestronk is an actor and director born and raised in New York City. She has lived all over Manhattan and grew up on the Upper East Side. She has since enjoyed living in both Astoria and Long Island City, and now happily resides in beautiful Sunnyside, Queens.

 Laura’s directing credits include Feedback by Jane Miller (Squeaky Bicycle Productions), Booze In the Boroughs by Penny Jackson (FACT), 200 Mystical Fictions by Debra Siegel (NY Fringe), Opening Night by Zach Rothman-Hicks (Where Eagles Dare), Jump! by Josh Sohn (Strawberry Festival- Best Play),  Unblessed by Kari Bentley Quinn (Packawallop).  Assistant directing credits include Marea(Packawallop- dir. Scott Ebersold) and Cardboard Box (Looking Glass- dir. Toby Bercovici).

Acting credits include The Tupperware Convention by Anna Governali , The Women’s Project by Mariana Newhard, Retrospective by Chris Van Strander,  Notes Between Us by Samantha Lee Manas, Kicked by Eljon Wardally. Laura’s one woman show, Interesting Topics In Significant Similitude Starring Cindy Cinnamon performed at Downtown Art and NYU. 

For the past 3 years, Laura has directed Broadway charity concerts raising money for the Humane Society and the Canned Food Drive. Both the annual Broadway Meows and Broadway Can concerts are written and composed by Seth Bisen-Hersh and perform at Don’t Tell Mama.

Laura received her BFA in Drama and Psychology from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She studied at Playwrights Horizons Theater School, concentrating in directing and acting. Laura is coordinator and member of the Pack- a collaborative group of writers, directors and actors. She is a founding member of Mission to ditMARS, a theater and arts collective based in Queens.

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Kari Bentley-Quinn
Kari Bentley-Quinn
Kari Bentley-Quinn

Neighborhood: Astoria/Woodside

Kari Bentley-Quinn is a playwright based in New York City, originally from the little coast town of Stratford, CT. Her plays have been presented at or developed with Lark Play Development Center, The Brick Theater, The Secret Theatre, Artemisia Theater, The One Minute Play Festival,  Lesser America, Caps Lock Theater, Effable Arts,  Packawallop Productions,  The Access Theater, FringeNYC, the Play Development Collective, and more.

Kari’s full length plays include The Permanent Night (2008 FringeNYC award winner), Paper Cranes (Packawallop Productions),The Unlikely Ascent of Sybil Stevens (The Secret Theatre New Voices Project), The Ocean Thought Nothing (2014 O’Neill Conference Finalist), Prepared(PlayPenn semi finalist) and The Worst Mother in the World.

Kari has been a finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, The Playwrights Realm, and the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, as well as being a nominee for the Doric Wilson Playwriting Award. Kari has an MFA in Playwriting from Hunter College, where she studied with Tina Howe, Arthur Kopit, and Mark Bly. At Hunter, she was the 2015 recipient of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Playwriting Award. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

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Don Nguyen
Don Nguyen
Don Nguyen
Don Nguyen

Neighborhood: Astoria
Website: and

Don Nguyen was born in Saigon, Vietnam, grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and currently resides in Astoria, Queens. Don studied theatre at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and he served as the Artistic Director of the Shelterbelt Theatre in Omaha from 1999-2003.

Full length plays include: RED FLAMBOYANT (World Premiere – Firebone Theatre Company 2015, 2015 GAP Prize Winner, Ojai Playwrights Conference, finalist – O’Neill NPC), SOUND (Azeotrope/ACT, BAPF,  Playwrights Realm Fellowship, finalist – Princess Grace Award), THE COMMENCEMENT OF WILLIAM TAN (Yale Cabaret, NYSAF), THE MAN FROM SAIGON (NYSAF, Naked Angels), THE SUPREME LEADER and HELLO, FROM THE CHILDREN OF PLANET EARTH.  Don’s work has been developed or produced at The Public Theater, The Flea, Ojai Playwrights Conference, New York Stage & Film, Naked Angels, Naked Radio, The Civilians, Ma-Yi Theatre, The Playwrights Realm, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Joe’s Pub, The 52nd Street Project, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Tofte Lake.  Don is the recipient of the 2015 GAP Prize from the Aurora Theatre and New York Stage & Film Founder’s award and has been a finalist for The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, The Princess Grace Award, Woodward International Playwriting Prize, and New Dramatists.  Nominations include: the Laurents/Hatcher award and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award.  Don is a proud member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group, The Civilians inaugural R&D Group, the 52nd Street Project, and a co-founder of Mission to (dit)Mars, a Queens based theatre arts collective.  For more information, please visit:

His one-act play The Harlequin Maneuvre was a finalist in the Riant Theatre’s Strawberry One-Act Festival (2004) and was published in The Best of The Strawberry One-Act Festival, Volume 1. It has subsequently been produced in New York, Nebraska, and Canada.

Other one act plays include Fat Ugly Vampire (Nuyorican Poets Cafe, NY), The Imaginary Association of Flight Attendants (Nuyorican Poets Cafe, NY),Love 160 (The Pack Lounge Series 3, Robert Moss Theater, NY),The Dragon Lord and the Fairy Queen (commissioned by The Lincoln Community Playhouse), A Decision of Extraordinary Magnitude, and a collection of eight Halloween plays: Bloodsucker, The Woman in the Blue Dress, Iron Chef: Battle of the Global Cuisine, Cooking with Julia, Soulmates, Torture, Survivor Down Under, and The Deadly Seduction, which were all produced by The Shelterbelt Theatre.

Other short plays and monologues include The Rocket Boys (52nd Street Project), Sexual Chocolate (The Secret Theatre, Long Island City), Girl Reflected and Look, A Lion (Emerging Writers Retreat, Public Theater).

Other writing credits include The Living Newspaper Workshop where he wrote several one acts and a webisode.  In July 2011, The Living Newspaper was invited by Liz Engelman and the Jerome Foundation to spend a weeklong residency at Tofte Lake Center in Minnesota to develop a play about overpopulation.

Don spent a week at a writers retreat at the Vineyard Arts Project in the summer of 2010, where he developed The Imaginary Association of Flight Attendants and The Man from Saigon.

Don is a member of the New York Public Theater’s 2008 Inaugural Emerging Writers GroupThe Civilians R & D Group and the Ma-Yi Writers Lab.  He frequently volunteers at The 52nd Street Project.  Don is also the creator of, an online photo gallery of his sad playwright friends.


Master Classes

Private mentoring
New York

Public Theater, NY

Public Theater, NY

Public Theater, NY

Public Theater, NY

Public Theater, NY

Cherry Lane Theatre, NY

Cherry Lane Theatre, NY

Cherry Lane Theatre, NY

Cherry Lane Theatre, NY

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Click here to view my list of plays.

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***Please note venue change ***

Our first mixer will be held at Alewife in Long Island City
Our first mixer will be held at Alewife in Long Island City

We are pleased to announce the location for our VERY FIRST Mission to ditMARS event! Please join us for cocktails, conversation and FUN on Wednesday, August 15th from 6:30 – 9:30 pm at Alewife in Long Island City!

YEAH! We’re super grateful to this venue for hosting us, and the location couldn’t be more convenient. If you think you can make it, please RSVP to (but if you decide to come at the last minute, don’t worry – there’s not a limit!). The party will be held in the upstairs lounge area. This is a very informal gathering – if you can come for the whole thing, great. If you want to stop by later, great. If you can only stay 15 minutes, that’s fine too! We just want to meet you!

Mission to ditMARS – Blast Off!
Wednesday, August 15th
6:30 – 9:30 PM
5-14 51st Avenue (7 train to Vernon Jackson stop)
Long Island City
Delicious craft beers on tap and full bar available! Some appetizers will be provided! Upstairs lounge area!
There will also be a Facebook invite – please go and “like” our page for all the latest updates!
As we mentioned, please bring your creative ideas and brain power to discuss the following ideas with us and your fellow artists:
  • Forming a “connective tissue” of Queens based artists; a living, breathing collective for idea sharing and inspiration
  • Space sharing and space donation for people to work (theaters, church basements, apartments, etc.)
  • Ideas for meetings and groups (do you want a writers group? A monthly meeting of dancers? An improv group?)
  • Ideas for other forms of art other than theater (including dance, music, and visual art)
  • Site-specific theatrical events
  • Ideas for fun “teambuilding” events (i.e. Art-based pub crawls, more mixers, etc.)
  • Anything you want!

Hope the summer is treating you well and we look so forward to seeing you soon!!


Mission to ditMARS
Kari Bentley-Quinn
Don Nguyen
Meredith Packer
Laura Pestronk

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It all started one cold February day in 2011.  Our first meeting was at Sweet Afton (an Astoria fave), where we chugged IPAs and stuffed our mouths with fried pickles, all while dreaming up a way to bring local Queens artists together.  We tossed around lots of ideas; some great, some crazy ambitious, and some just crazy.  We shared frustrations on how everything theatre-wise seemed to be happening in Manhattan and Brooklyn and we felt it was about time for the artists in Queens to stand up and unite.

Since that first meeting, we’ve had several more.   Every meeting involved lots of planning and lots of booze.

Now we’re finally here.  On August 15, 2012, we’ll be having our first mixer/kickoff celebration at the Alewife.  We’re thrilled to have finally arrived at this stage, and we’re equally thrilled to see (with your help) what we come up next.